Writing Online

Every so often I get the inkling to make this site more than what it is. Since 2008 I’ve been writing fairly regularly here about whatever comes to mind, and in doing so I’ve covered several topics. I’ve written about Android and Mac geekery, success and failure in Mac development, business, psychology, systems administration, personal stories, and memories. More than anything, I have tried to inspire others, and sometimes, if I’m very, very lucky, I succeed.

From time to time something I’ve written gets linked to by someone unexpected, and sometimes I get linked to because I’ve emailed someone to show them the site. These spikes in readers tells me that what I write can be interesting, at least part of the time, but the pattern is haphazard. Probably as haphazard and random as the topics I’ve covered. I think that this range of topics is what discourages readers from returning to jonathanbuys.com, at least outside of those that know me personally.

For a long time, I simply did not care how many people read the site. I did not collect statistics or hit counts, and the only metric I had for measuring the popularity (or lack thereof) of the site was email and Twitter responses. Lately though I’ve been wondering why I keep the site at all, if not for people to read it. Part of me wants to answer that the easy way and say that it is simply a developers journal, a place to rant about whatever my latest complaint is about this language or that syntax. That’s not the truth though. If it were, the main topic of the site would be development, and it is clearly not. Another reason is to maintain a sort of “online resume” for potential job offers. Keeping an online persona for employers is an interesting idea, and I would certainly not be against anyone looking through the site to try to get to know me better, but as a sole purpose I think the online resume could be done better in a different format. A much older reason I had for keeping the site was just to practice writing. An idea worth exploring.

To be able to write coherently, you must first be able to organize your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In the 37 Signals book “Getting Real”, the authors say to hire the better writer, because good writing is the sign of an organized mind. Writing is exercise for the mind. If watching TV is eating potato chips, writing is lifting weights. However, writing for practice does not mean that you have to share. If practicing writing was my only motivation, I would have no need for a website. A personal journal would do. So, why do I keep publishing? Why do I keep working on the site?

Mostly, its hope. I will be deep, bare-bones honest with you here. It is hope that maybe, just maybe, the site will turn into something more, or lead to something more. I publish here because I hope that something I love to do, writing, can lead to opportunities I cannot foresee. I write here for the same reasons I started Farmdog, the same reasons I went back to grad school… hope. Still, hope and $2.02 will get you a medium cup of coffee at Smokey Row. It is not enough to hope. To make anything real you must take action. To take action, you need direction, to have direction, you must have a plan. Me, I’m a planner.

Going back to the idea of writing being the sign of an organized mind, I honestly did not know how this article was going to end until I started writing it. In the writing, my mind worked through the reasoning and logic, aligning things I knew into a cohesive story. A story that starts being more focused on the topics I write about, and thinking more about the reader than myself. I don’t know how I’m going to say I’m writing to be a writer without sounding like an asshole, but I’m going to do my best.